Director: Gordon Douglas
Genre(s): Crime, Drama, Thriller
Runtime: 102 minutes
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
It isn’t often that you hear about states within the United States banning movies. However, this picture, Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye, was initially outlawed in Ohio thanks to its violence (extremely tame by today’s standards) and its fairly detailed depictions of potentially imitable crimes. The plot follows gangster Ralph Cotter’s (James Cagney) escape from the chain gang and his life of crime afterwards, which includes bringing in two crooked cops, Charles Weber (Ward Bond) and John Reece (Barton MacLane), onto his payroll. It’s not one of James Cagney’s very best, but it’s a nice change of pace.
Ol’ Cagney here plays one of his career’s most psychopathic characters. He doesn’t even have a mother character to show affection towards, like he does in The Public Enemy (1931) and White Heat (1949). He’s a mean cuss who’ll pistol-whip you into submission if he suspects resistance. Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye also probably has enough noirish touches for it to be considered a proper film-noir. The cinematography isn’t quite moody enough to look like a stereotypical noir, but it still might fit the bill for 1940s-1950s crime-thriller aficionados.
Unfortunately, this feature almost hits a brick wall at times, due to a romantic subplot between Cagney’s character and Margaret Dobson (Helena Carter). It sometimes feels like something out of a completely different film. I’m not sure this subplot could’ve been completely removed from the final cut without leaving plot holes in the story, but it definitely should’ve been written out of the screenplay. There’s also bookend scenes in a courtroom that may spoil who lives and who dies throughout the course of the flick.
Yeah, it’s somewhat talky at times, but Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye is worth recommending because of the Cagney factor. He’s one of the most charismatic actors in Hollywood history, even when playing a cold-blooded killer. If you can find a copy, I’d say “watch it.” Also, what’s up with the hat that Vic Mason (Rhys Williams) wears? I thought only cartoon characters wore whoopee caps.
My rating is 7 outta 10.